In case you missed it, the Steelers began the game in a nickel defense. Aaron Smith was lined up at nose tackle with Kimo von Oelhoffen and Jason Gildon playing the ends. Mike Logan and Deshea Townsend were the extra DBs in the game in place of Casey Hampton and Larry Foote. The Steelers used the defense about a half-dozen times in the game and seemed content to try to mix things up with different looks. Of course the defense continued to give up big plays, so who knows what we'll see next week, maybe a 4-6 defense?
Chad Scott guaranteed that the Steelers would make the playoffs. Scott was talking the talk. Of course he also seemed to be walking the walk most of the day - back to the huddle after being beaten for another big pass.
A big part of the problem Sunday was the Steelers special teams play. It seemed like every time the Steelers scored, they allowed the Saints to return the ball out over the 30 yard line. On many of those occasions, when the New Orleans returners caught the ball there wasn't a Steelers player within 25 yards of him.
The Saints are a very fast team, especially on offense. Jim Haslett has built himself a winner. Tommy Maddox was sacked four times by the Saints. That is going to be the downside of him playing. He just can't get out of the way of blitzers and teams are going to throw more and more of that at him.
Larry Foote was awful and was replaced by John Fiala after Deuce McAllister's 52-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. If Kendrell Bell is still unable to play Sunday, look for Fiala to start. Corey Dillon has a history of ripping off long gains like that on the Steelers also.
Kick returner Lee Mays carries the football very, very carelessly. It's going to cost the Steelers at some point.
The NFL should institute a rule which requires that any close play in the final two minutes of each half be immediately reviewed by the replay officials before a call is made. They go and replay them anyway, so they might as well save their breath and everyone's consternation by making the correct call from the get-go.
Got your playoff ticket application ready to go in the mail? If you can't trust Chad Scott, who can you trust?
I'm sure the next time Bettis struggles, the Amos Zereoue supporters will come out of the woodwork and say he should be the starter, after having 119 total yards in Sunday's performance. But Zereoue did all of his damage in passing situations. He's still not and never will be an every-down back.
Did you notice, by the way, Zereoue got caught from behind on his 54-yard screen play in the second quarter? I didn't see anyone running down McAllister from behind on his 52-yard touchdown run. In fact, he was pulling away. That, my friends, is why the Saints traded Ricky Williams to go with McAllister.